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Drone legislation a step in the right direction, lawyer says

Guardian Business Reporter

Published: Feb 25, 2015

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A leading attorney said yesterday that the Ministry of Transport and Aviation is taking “a step in the right direction” after announcing that it would release a series of proposed regulations governing commercial and recreational drone use by the end of March.

Higgs & Johnson Partner Michael Allen told Guardian Business that the announcement is a relief given the privacy issues and potential threats to national security presented by unregulated drone use, adding that the regulations should include a licensing fee for commercial drone use.

“I think generally this is a step in the right direction. It has to be responsibly regulated. There are some issues of national security also at play here. A responsible government would move in the direction that the minister is foreshadowing. I think it’s definitely the right approach to take.

“It’s very reasonable to assume that the registration process should include some kind of payment and licensing that should also be monitored and controlled by government,” said Allen.

Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin revealed earlier this week that the ministry expects to release proposed commercial and recreational drone use regulations by March 30, 2015 under the Department of Civil Aviation amid safety and national security concerns.

Hanna-Martin said that the future regulations would govern usage, height restriction, operator certification, aircraft registration and markings, and the operational limits of local drone use as local use expands. The announcement comes two weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its proposed regulations for commercial drone use in the United States, which impose restrictions requiring that drones must be within the line of site of the operator.

While Allen said that the drone regulations are a priority for the ministry in the near future, he highlighted that there are additional commercial opportunities within the country’s aviation sector.

Elite Travel Magazine revealed last December that Nassau topped the list of private charter jet destinations during last year’s winter season, drawing in over $270 million for the country. Given the numbers and the Ministry of Tourism’s interest in attracting even more private jet business in 2015, Allen said there is significant room for growth in the country’s aircraft registry. Hanna-Martin announced earlier this month that the government had selected ICF International to help develop the framework for The Bahamas’ international aircraft registry.

“We need to consolidate a position as a jurisdiction that can be used in the context of aircraft financing. Because we are a tax-neutral destination and we’ve got a fairly well-recognized corporate regime I think we have an opportunity to keep pace with our major competitors, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. We can certainly grow with the right infrastructure and promotion.

“Beyond that, I think it’s going to be critical to consider the extent to which we can improve the registration of aircraft on our local registry. We have a growing presence of private jets in the jurisdiction so there is the need to consider how we may best accommodate the requirements and needs of private jet ownership,” said Allen.


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